Diary of A Busy Homemaker:  October Blue Skies

Diary of A Busy Homemaker: October Blue Skies

Saturday:  I meant to sleep late.  I woke at about 7:30 this morning and yes, that is an hour and a half later than I've been getting up, so technically I can say I slept late but I really thought I'd sleep until 9 or even 10.   I'm not in the least sorry I was up early.  No sunrise to watch this morning through the fog but I created a special weekend brew of coffee and that made it seem special.

I used a dark roast k-cup, some French vanilla dry powdered creamer that Bess kindly left here last week, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a healthy splash of whole milk.   This is such a warming, wonderfully scented and flavorful cup of coffee!   The perfect fall weekend morning treat.  It's so good, that I like my frugal version quite well enough to put off looking for a flavored coffee to purchase.  I plan to savor this every autumn weekend and then I'll see what I might come up with for a winter weekend brew and then a spring one.  I like the blueberry cobbler one for summer quite well.  I think it would add to my simple pleasures list to have a seasonal weekend coffee treat.  

John made breakfast this morning, quite a large one.  I ate all I could but I have to confess that I was so satisfied with my coffee that I didn't even feel hungry.  

After breakfast, I stacked rinsed dishes in the kitchen sink and then I went off to the bedroom.  I made our bed but only in part.   I don't go the distance and put the pillow shams on the pillows. I make the bed neatly and put the pillows on the bed without shams and no decorative pillows.  That is quite nice enough on a day I am trying hard not to work.

I have added two things to the Sabbath weekend.  The first is that I change our sheets and towels on Fridays now, so that when we got to bed Sabbath night, the bed is freshly made.  There's something really nice about having clean bedding on a Friday night.

The other thing is that I give myself a mini spa on Saturday morning.   This morning, I did a partial pedicure and shaved.   Another time I might do a face mask or exfoliating scrub.   This too makes me feel pampered and because I'm not pressed for time, I can enjoy the process of taking added steps in my personal care.

John had told me yesterday we'd go out.  When he asked what I'd like to do today, I confessed that my real preoccupation was to go to the discount grocery in the next town and get whole chickens which were going for 98c a pound.  (I know I said 88c last week.  I was wrong and forgot to correct it,)  John didn't think that sounded like a great day out especially as his sole duty on this particular trip is to sit in the car and wait.  He doesn't go into this store.  No clue why.   But never mind, as I reminded him today, it was first days of the month and a Saturday so the store would be busy.  I only wanted to go because it was the last day of this sale and though they had them on sale two weeks ago it was 8 weeks between sales cycles this time around.  I had specifically cleared space in the freezer to hold two or three whole chickens.

Well, that was all fine with him.  But apparently it wasn't enough.  He went off to play guitar and came back when he was done and said "We'll do the shopping you wanted to do but we're going to go have lunch at Longhorn's and we're taking the route along the old River Rd."   Which was a very specific way of saying we'd get a ride in as well as going to lunch.

The ride was lovely, the lunch was delicious and the grocery shopping successful.   When we left the restaurant, I told John I didn't believe we'd have a pizza for supper.  We'd eaten a lovely meal that was larger than we'd have had at home.  

I'll do a quick run down of what I got today.  I went straight to the markdown produce section where I picked up 2 pounds of potatoes for 50c, 1 head of cauliflower 50c, a dozen limes 50c and an 8 ounce container of organic fresh spinach for 50c.  I noted they had restocked the whole wheat elbow macaroni.  Previously that was 79c a pound and was now 89c a pound.   Plenty of turkey spam in stock so I added four cans to the buggy.  I picked up a bottle each of sesame oil and garlic chili paste.  I chose two of the larger chickens in the meat case both weighing in at over 4 pounds.   Two packages of cheddar cheese went into the buggy since we have none and it's another 10 days until our monthly check comes in.   I added in a box of frozen corn dogs because that seemed a good idea for supper and as a treat for John I bought ice cream.   All of that came up to about $63 with the 10% added (that's the discount part...it's supposedly wholesale plus 10%.)  Oh yes, I also got two cans of Hunt's spaghetti sauce, one with meat and one traditional.  Those were 88c each.  Truth I think I can buy a similar one  cheaper at Aldi but I'll be sure and do a price check next time I'm there.

We were out for less than 3 hours but it was such a relaxing and easy trip that I didn't feel in the least harried when we got home.  In fact, I felt refreshed, something I'd been feeling more and more as the day went on.  It is fact, that I just plain need this break if I'm to be a better caregiver to Caleb.  I find that towards the end of the week I am tired and my patience is thin.  And one thing I must have with a not quite two year old who is very active and on the go is patience.

That's why I made the vow last weekend I would take rest time at the same time that Caleb does.   Housework tasks will wait.  Rest time however, never appears again in a day, I've found.  

I know I'm chatting more than I'd typically do on a Saturday but really it's because I'm finding it so very hard to get in quality writing time during the week.  Bear with me though, I'm about done.

An unexpected thing was the offer of four dining room chairs.   There are two of each style and they don't match my table or buffet exactly nor even each set match exactly,  but you all know I'm not a matchy matchy sort anyway.  I don't mind mixing pieces together.  I won't get rid of the metal chairs but I will retire them at least for a time.   I have 12 yards more of the same fabric I just covered the old chair cushions with and can recover the seats of the chairs I'm going to get.   The metal chairs were never meant to be permanent seating but to fill a gap until we could go buy more.   Well, that day never came because the chairs were sturdy as could be.  I've had them now for a good 14 years I think...Katie was still in high school.  So we shall see how this works out.  Fingers crossed!

Autumn Savor:  A very foggy morning.  It's not that we don't get foggy mornings in any other season, but this time of year the number of spider webs that are revealed when the misty fog saturates the strands is amazing.   And they are beautiful.  You can really appreciate the work of the spiders when the strands have droplets of water dangling all along them.

Sunday:  I sure did want to stay abed this morning when that alarm rang at 6:15.  I dragged myself out of bed anyway and immediately went to work in the kitchen doing the little prep required for our Sunday dinner.  Mostly I wanted to leave the dressing out at room temperature (I'd already baked it on Friday) and get the potatoes boiled.   I will say the morning goes much more smoothly with the sheets being changed on Friday morning instead of on Sunday morning as I'd been doing.  Just taking that one task off my list has been so beneficial.

So we were ready to go on time, with everything set up except chicken which I left in the fridge.  The bed was made, dishes were loaded, food prep was done, pans were ready for foods and pets fed.   It was probably one of the most relaxed mornings I've had in a while.  I even had time to drink a properly warm cup of coffee.   That's saying something!

We had a wonderful service and then headed home.   We only stopped for gasoline on our way home, but as we got nearer our town, I told John, "I really ought to go get hot dog buns for the boys..."   We stopped at our local grocery.   Here's where my day turned wrong.   

I can't say I was surprised to see the sign on the door that stated we MUST wear a mask.  I pulled out a mask and went into the store.  It was what was inside the door that stopped me cold and made me determine then and there that I'd not go back into the store anytime in the future.   I'll go to the dollar store.  I'll drive to either of the towns east or west of us.   That's how upset I was by what I saw.

And what set me off?  A row of gambling machines complete with chairs.  Admittedly, it might not bother others but to walk into a grocery store and see it set up like a casino upset me greatly.  It is literally set up as you come in the front door.  There's no way to miss the stupid things or the people sitting there.  

I walked straight to the bread section, picked up hot dog buns and went to the register.  In questioning the cashier, a long time employee, I asked "How long have those been here?"  She answered and I told her, "You haven't asked for my opinion but I'm sharing it anyway.  I don't like it at all. "  She nodded.  Not much she can do about it, I know.

I've tried to make it a point to go in more frequently, ever since my run in with the couple in the next town over who had helped to spread gossip about the new owner and the state of the store.   I hotly denied the rumors they were sharing and have tried to be supportive of the new owner.  But this I can't support.  I told John when I came out today that I wouldn't be going back to that store again.  I'll grant you the owner is not going to lose sleep over his business without my support.  

We came home and I was directing John about setting up the kids table when Katie came in.  I was slinging food into the stove, and trying to call Sam and  still upset by my discovery of the machines at the local grocery.  I snapped at Taylor who was  asking me a question on repeat.  Katie interceded and I sat down and apologized to Taylor.  I explained to Katie why I was so upset and a whole slew of worries landed on her shoulders that I'd not meant to say a thing about.   Oh goodness!  It's amazing how one thing can suddenly become the proverbial straw isn't it?

I decided then and there it was best to just relax and let go of my angst and upsets and stress.  The children were sent outdoors to play.   It was warm out there today but we all knew rain is meant to come in and we wanted the kids to enjoy the outdoors while they could.  They'll be cooped up the next few days.    Sam came with Millie and said Bess was on her way back, which was nice, as she had been helping her mom get moved this weekend and wasn't sure she'd make it to lunch.  

She'd left the new to me dining chairs on the front porch this morning and John brought them in while I was getting foods set up for warming.  He immediately put in a bid for one of the chairs to become his in the music room.  I told him "Nope!  But you can certainly have one of our old dining chairs for the music room."   He's been using an old desk chair that squeaks and squawks something fierce and it will be nice for him to have something that doesn't compete with his music, especially if he's trying to record.

I'm happy to say the new wood chairs look really nice with the dining table.   I'm still being cautious because we have a history of poor luck when it comes to wood dining chairs.   And Josh is the worst for tilting back in a chair.  I told John that Josh will have the privilege of sitting in one of the metal chairs when he's here.  He broke one of those this year and Chad welded it for me.  I shall not trust him in a wooden chair!

We went ahead  and fed the children.  Millie bless her was stuck at the table in the living room by herself so I came in to sit with her.  The problem is that the antique high chair has no tray and is far too high to sit at the children's table.   She's a less messy eater than Caleb and so she was put in the dining area while the children all ate in the kitchen but I plan to remedy this as soon as possible and see that she too has a chair that is suitable for putting her at the table with the other kids.  I think she'll enjoy being a part of the cousins.

When Bess came in all the adults ate.  The children were still at table for a good bit while we ate our dinner.  I like that they enjoy eating together and will sit and talk.  Isaac cracked me up today.  Josh loves to run and was talking about how he was Flash because he was fast. They had Ninja Turtle sippy cups at lunch and Isaac said "I'm going to be a Ninja Turtle, because I am slooooow!"   He is so funny, lol.

Dinner went well.  I had only a small plate of food leftover.  The dogs got a nice lot of food courtesy of the children.  I don't consider it complete waste if the dogs can also get a meal, though I'd prefer not to feed them our foods.   I was able to load all the dishes into the dishwasher and that filled it up, so I got them washed.    

The boys and girls played about but Caleb went down for a nap.   Eventually everyone except Caleb, who was asleep, left.  Katie took Taylor home, Josh ran home across the field, Isaac and Millie went with Sam in the car.   John and I looked at each other and sighed.  It was nice to have the house quiet.  It lasted a whole 15 minutes.  And then Caleb woke and he went at a run from the moment his feet hit the floor.  Toys were tossed here and tossed there and I finally gave up any pretense I could clear up the mess and let him make as big a one as he wanted.

Katie very kindly brought supper to us, since she had to stop at the grocery on her way back.  She brought us Chicken Pot stickers, Egg rolls and watermelon which made a quick and lovely supper.  Once she had left with Caleb, after she'd picked up toys, John and I scurried through the house and set things to rights while supper cooked.  I can tick off a half dozen or more jobs I might tackle and John even suggested I was not telling the truth when I told him I was ready to settle down for the evening, but you know my philosophy.  Housework will wait.  I prefer to have it done.  I prefer that my home be nice and neat and clean but I also know that housework will wait.   It never gets up and leaves because it's undone.

Tomorrow I shall sit down and plan out lunch and breakfast menus.   That made the week go a lot easier too.   I'm all about what makes life easier just now and planning meals is number one on the list!

Autumn Savor: John will say my menu today was autumn inspired.  Each year in September or October, I make a big pan of dressing/stuffing and serve it, usually with a turkey breast but today with  Gramma's Fried Chicken dinner.   It was so good and my two youngest children pretty much demolished the pan between them.

Monday:  It occurred to me yesterday as I moved the island out of the middle of the kitchen that I could do what I did when Josh and Isaac were living here, block the lower food cabinets with the island and by turning the island around, also close off the temptation to keep sliding that island drawer and those doors open (so all the doors are facing one another is what I mean).    So this morning I did exactly that.  

Before Caleb arrived, I set out a tub of blocks that I thought he might play with  but knew he likely couldn't lift out of the toy box himself.  That 'new' toy to play with went over big with him and he was fully occupied all morning long with blocks.  He stacked, he took them out of the tub and put them back in, he lined them up, he hauled some in a truck.  

After he'd gone through the plastics bin and tossed everything into the floor, I picked them all up and set that out of reach.  I know he likes to play with them but too much stuff makes a big mess.  This afternoon, I'll set one pair of John's shoes down on the floor because I know Caleb likes to walk in them.   That will be something fresh to play with this afternoon that he didn't have this morning.   I'm trying hard to keep him occupied and at the same time allow him plenty freedom of choice.

About mid-morning, I had planned out meals for lunch and breakfast and then immediately changed my mind on menus because I remembered things I had in the fridge or found something in the freezer that I could also use as a meal.

While he had lunch today, I cleaned the fridge.  I had my back to him but he liked looking into the fridge so it worked out very well.

*designates a gathered fragment or an item that was found as an odd and end I planned to use as I found it.

So from my freezer today I have pulled out venison to thaw (sirloin burgers and spaghetti sauce), chicken (for the Mississippi Chicken) and a container of the beef soup* Katie made that will make a nice lunch for us one day.

I  found a single tomato I'd frozen plus odd bits of green bell peppers and onions, tomato paste, and a full pint of diced tomatoes.   I set all of those aside to go into the sauce, along with some carrot tops I'd dried to use as parsley. *everything here was a Gathered Fragment

From the fridge, I took out some onion*, garlic, a partial jar of marinara*, the spinach I just bought, a carrot and the last of the celery stalk*.  I stemmed the spinach and chopped the stems and any bruised leaves, grated the carrot and chopped the celery.   I put the spinach leaves that were nice back into the container, layered in with paper towel under and over them.  That went back in the fridge for a salad later this week.   The rest went into my saucepot to make our sauce.  I'm trying to do a quick thaw on the venison so it can go in and simmer a long time with the sauce ingredients.

Tuesday:  I fell right to sleep last night.  I remember John getting in the bed, but I do not remember him starting prayer.  I woke up sometime later and shifted my position and went right back to sleep and I stayed asleep until about 5:45 this morning.  I guess I was more weary than I realized.

Caleb asked for 'Ni-Ni' and so I put him to bed but I hear him hooting and calling so I suppose I shall go get him up in a few minutes.  He had about 40 minutes of quiet and that is good enough for me.  I rather look forward to the afternoon naps myself and prefer he lay down then because it makes for a very long afternoon if he's tired and cranky.

Briefly, my morning has not been busy but I did a small amount of food prep.  Pancakes for breakfast and most of those went into the freezer though we all had what we wanted of them.   Caleb was tested on an Almond milk yogurt smoothie which he seemed to like rather well.  He can't eat these on his own because there are no tubes or packets for children his age so I made it into a smoothie for him with just a little lactose free milk.  

I made tuna salad for lunch using a *boiled egg that I had in the fridge and some grated wrinkled apple*.  I also used a similar apple* to make up a batch of apple Streusel muffins that we'll have for breakfast tomorrow morning.    

Now off to get up that little boy before he gets irritable at being ignored....

 All the fragments and leftovers are gathered on one shelf and I'll try to make lunches from that.  Today Caleb had mac and cheese*, a chopped hot dog*, and watermelon*.  John and I had a chili dog each using a single hot dog* and nachos with the rest of the watermelon*.

Autumn Savor:  It's raining and has turned a wee bit cooler.  Looking out the window today, one can easily guess that fall is here despite all the greenery about.  There's plenty of golden leaves, the lawn is scattered with them and the trees all have a decidedly golden hue as well.

Wednesday:  Autumn Savor:  Is there anything better than snuggling down under the covers on a cool autumn night?  With the rain we're having cool temperatures and then heavy humid temps but last night the room was cool enough to warrant snuggling in the covers.  

Today I got six outfits set up in my wardrobe.  I dusted the palm tree in our bathroom and took the four orchids outdoors to repot with fresh bark.  

This last task is a little involved.  You must cut away dead root ends and trim damaged or yellow leaves.  At the same time it's necessary to keep the air roots separate from those that are to go back into the bark.  I've noted that you never see the air roots on any orchid you buy in a store or at least only rarely, but they do form and it's necessary to plant health that they stay intact unless they too get dry or damaged.   I always feel a bit unsure of myself when I'm dealing with any type of pruning but I remind myself that I bought these plants and I can buy more if I kill them.  

With that happy (?) thought in mind I went to work snipping away and feel all four look better already for the care.

Then I brought the little Maranta Prayer Plant that has looked spindly for the last few months around to the back porch and divided it up.  There must have been six or more plants in that pot, all small and tiny.   I hadn't realized until I was looking back at old pictures that over the past six years this plant had gotten smaller.   It was pot bound and definitely needed the attention.  What will I do with six plants?  I have no clue...One thing I've had this year is a constant multiplication of plants I already own and despite giving several to Bess, I keep dividing and ending up with more.  At some point I suppose I'll sell or share them.  In the meantime, I may have struggled with flowers this year but I certainly have had nothing but success with the potted plants.

I found two recipes last night that I wanted to try.  I made them both today.   I altered both to suit what I had on hand.  

One was a smaller breakfast casserole from BH&G.  I don't know why it never occurred to me I might use diced potatoes instead of frozen hash browns.   I had potatoes on hand and contemplated the meat options.  This recipe actually offered alternatives.  It called for 1 cup of cooked meat:  ham, sausage, etc.  I had half a can of Spam and was seriously thinking I'd use that but I'd planned to make Corned Beef Hash sometime this week for breakfast and decided that making  my breakfast casserole with corned beef would work as well.  It's a good, easy recipe and honestly now that I've been enlightened I'll stop waiting to make it when I think to buy frozen hash browns.  I did test a little bit of the casserole when it came from the oven and it's good.  I'll reheat it in the morning and serve with the Apple Streusel muffins I made yesterday.

The other recipe was by Julie Pacheco.  It is called Ground Beef Stroganoff but it's not made exactly like stroganoff and yet it does have those flavors overall.   I made this instead of the ground sirloin patties I'd planned to make.  I didn't use egg noodles but used a half box of whole wheat elbow macaroni.   I split the recipe between two pans since we don't need a big 9 x 13 pan.   I have to say that both John and I were pleased with how this recipe tasted.  In fact,  John went back for seconds and told me that he liked it so much he wanted to eat all that was left.  I told him to go right ahead!   That's the advantage of having already split a recipe.  

Caleb has been taking an early morning quiet time the past few days.  I expect it's the rainy weather as each morning it has poured with rain.  This morning he actually went to sleep.  He didn't take a nap this afternoon but he did go down for quiet time when he started to have mild tantrums.  I understand that he can't express himself at present and that it is frustrating for him but at some point Gramma has to admit that it might also be a very tired little boy she's dealing with.  He does go at pretty much a fast trot the whole while he's here...He didn't nap but he was quiet for a half hour before calling out to me.  I make sure he knows he's not being punished but simply getting a quiet space in his day. And when he's been down a reasonable amount of time, be it a half hour or an hour, if he calls to me I'll go fetch him out.  I don't want him to associate this time with punishment in any way.    I want him to understand it's beneficial to have this time of restricted activity and rest.

After Katie left this evening, John used taking trash off as his excuse to go see what the electric line maintenance people had done.  They've spent the last two days here on our property (and Sam's) cutting the brush and tall grass along the power lines.   John was able, two years ago to maintain one section on our land but the other he could not.   He hopes to be able to maintain this portion, or at least a truck wide path near the poles this time around.  

We drove to the north edge of our property and I suggested John might want to turn around.  He went on up into a portion of pasture that belongs to Sam and turned off the drive there.  Well doggone it, there was a shallow ditch we couldn't see in the grass and something (a branch?  An old fence pole?) came up under the car.  The car sounded and worked just fine but once home, I could see that the inside of the bumper had been pulled away.   John went back on his mower and brought the piece back home.  It will go back on just fine he says, but he wasn't any too happy with the situation, me or the dogs once he realized he'd damaged the car.  We both should have known better but hindsight is always a good deal clearer than foresight.

We'd had sunshine and clear skies this evening but it was heavy and humid.  When we came back from our little mishap, I was sitting on the back porch and it was cool and clouded over.  By the time we were watching our church service it was pouring rain all over again.

Thursday:  Autumn Savor:  The leaf scattered porches...We haven't had much of a breeze this week just lots of rain, but this morning when I went out on the back porch, I found it scattered with brown leaves that had apparently dried enough to be blown onto the back porch.  I was reminded of the joy of fallen leaves and how we children enjoyed the piles of them we raked up...

Another day of keeping Caleb.  You'll notice just now that meals and Caleb are about the centers of all my activities.

We had the Corned Beef Breakfast Casserole for our breakfast and it was pretty good.  I'd have liked to try this with Swiss cheese as a topping but Cheddar worked well enough.   I served it with ketchup on the side and sliced and warmed the rest of the Pumpkin Banana bread I'd found in the fridge this morning when I was looking for an end of a loaf of bread.  

Heated Katie's soup for our lunch.

Made the Mississippi Chicken for our evening meal.  I pulled out some breaded okra I'd put up summer was a year ago.   I hope that is all gone now.  That was oven fried and I served it alongside the rest of the previously planned menu.  In searching the freezer for the collard greens I'd meant to have with this meal, I found instead the chicken nuggets I'd wanted to serve Caleb earlier this week as well as that okra and the zucchini I hadn't been able to find earlier in the week.

There's enough Mississippi Chicken left to either make warm sandwiches but I'm contemplating a creative leftover makeover....Pizza.   I think this would make a great pizza if only I had pepperoncini to top the pizza with.  I don't.  But I'll bet I could make an awesome pizza with this leftover.

My current book is a strange one but I can't put it down.  The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope,  The book can't be classified as romance.  It is about a relationship between a young girl and a being she finds.  The relationship is romantic/sexual but the book is not explicit and I appreciate that about it.  I'm about half way through and most of that I read today.  

I found, while filling up my flour canister, a box of cake box I'd bought earlier in the summer.   I pulled it out and prepared it today.  I skipped putting oil in the cake mix.  This is an old trick I've done for years upon.  Just add the amount of oil/water called for together and put that much water in.  I never have had a problem with the cake turning out just fine.  I frosted it with a Mocha frosting.   Bess happened to walk over to return some things and we all had a slice and coffee.  I sent most of the other half home with her, leaving just enough for John and I to have a couple slices each and have  piece for Katie.

And that's one more day in the life of a gramma keeping an almost 2year old....

Friday:  Several jobs done this morning.  I washed sheets and towels, and added in a the few  other clothes we needed to wash, as well.  Then I washed the kitchen rugs.  Caleb amused me when I took out the striped rug that normally lies at the back door.  I tossed it on the bench, planning to take it outdoors to hang up only to have it start to rain once again.  Caleb came along and found it before I could determine where I'd drape it here in the house and tossed it down at the back door, ready to spread it out as it normally is.  I was really kind of impressed with his quick help and knowledge of how to place it.

I made our bed afresh and after Caleb went down for his quiet time (no nap this morning), I unloaded the dishwasher and swept the kitchen floor.  

We've had a decently good morning here at the house.  Caleb was so happy.  We had lentil tacos for our lunch.  Caleb liked the guacamole best.  

His big accomplishment today is that he's suddenly just the right height to easily pull himself into any chair in the house.

He too his nap this afternoon.  Gramma took one, too.

I've no idea what supper will be tonight.  I'm just glad that another week is done.  

How was your week?  

(C) Terri Cheney
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